Craig Robinson may be well known for his role as Darryl Philbin on “The Office.” But he recently told me he was always meant to play a shark.
So it works out that Robinson got to voice Mr. Shark in “The Bad Guys,” a new animated film about a group of villainous animals who soon band together to become model citizens after they're arrested. The group then works to show the world that they’re actually the good guys — even though we all know they aren’t.
Robinson told me in an interview that he was approached for the role of Mr. Shark, who he described as a “gentle giant.” But, Robinson said, he would have picked Mr. Shark even if he had his pick of characters.
“I love my character. The shark. Big gentle giant, you know?” Robinson told me. “You don’t want to rub the wrong way. I loved it.”
Playing a villain excited Robinson, too.
“It was fun playing a villain,” he said. “It’s like, there are no rules for it. You get to break all the rules. You get to have all the fun. So that’s what it was with Mr. Shark.”
Friendships play a vital role in the film, too. These bad guys end up teaming up together to fight crime, turning the idea of the anti-hero story on its head.
Robinson said it was a fun experience teaming up with Mr. Snake (Marc Maron) in the film, since it allowed the two characters to create a special bond.
Production for “The Bad Guys” was anything but full of team-ups. Robinson explained that he would show up at the DreamWorks studio alone. Before he entered, he would take a COVID-19 test and then head into the booth to start recording his lines for the movie. He said there were often videos and audio to help him with the back-and-forth with other characters.
At times, there’d be someone working the sound and audio, and then others producing the movie through Zoom.
“It wasn’t like one like your typical set,” he said. “This was ... a COVID set.”
It took teamwork, of course, to finish production and to make the film succeed, he said. By the end of the film’s production, more people were in the studio to help with sound, audio and production.
In a way, the production of the film emulates the idea of the film itself. Slowly, the production team conquered the massive challenges and villainous ways of the coronavirus.
But the film is about more than villains becoming good guys and helping bring down other baddies. There’s a deeper message, Robinson said, about not judging someone right from the first time you meet them.
“You know, there’s a beautiful message about don’t judge a book by its cover,” Robinson said. “Friendship is a huge takeaway from that — being loyal to one another. So, yeah, the kids are gonna go on with something special attached to their heart.”
“The Bad Guys” releases in theaters on April 22, 2022.